the cost of bipolar

I’ve had bipolar disorder since I was a pre-teen, and the costs of my illness have been eye-opening. I have lost educational opportunities and had instability in my career, resulting in a loss of many tens of thousands of dollars over the years. There have been the financial costs due to unnecessary purchases and moving to different places. There are significant costs for ongoing mental health treatment. I have lost or damaged several important relationships, and I nearly lost my life on a few occasions.

There are also the physical health costs associated with bipolar disorder. There is the weight gain associated with the meds I take, which causes me problems such as high blood pressure, the potential for heart disease, and lack of mobility. I have sleep problems, decreased libido, and ongoing gastrointestinal problems, all of which decrease my quality of life. Bipolar medication may one day cost me my intellect, if the potential for early dementia becomes a reality (I wrote a previous post about memory problems).

My bipolar has inflicted harm on the family as well. My wife has stayed with me despite over 30 years of instability and unpredictability, and it has cost her emotionally, including unhappiness, fear, and anxiety. She had to be responsible for raising the kids while I was unable to help due to my illness. She has felt like she has to work harder to make more money to pay for the medical bills (she doesn’t at this time), so she continues to work at a physical job and often has debilitating aches and pains.

My son and daughter grew up in an unstable home where I wasn’t mentally present for long periods, which in my opinion caused ongoing mental health issues. My son has battled depression, but seems to have dealt with it pretty well. My daughter has been diagnosed with bipolar, schizoaffective disorder, and anxiety disorder. Her illness has cost her most of her friends, dreams of a normal life, two potential career paths, and many thousands of dollars in medical bills. She struggles with emotional issues in addition to her other physical and mental problems.

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we could be heroes

Who do you look up to, who do you want to be like? Whose example do you want to follow in your professional or personal life? Who do you look at and see as someone we should all strive to emulate? Who is your hero?

I think there are everyday people who choose to do extraordinary acts, and they deserve recognition for it, but I have no heroes. There are no individuals who I would want to be like just because of who they are or what they have done. There is no one who I would want to pattern my career after, and there is no one in particular who I would want to live my life by their example.

I have such a hard time relating to people who have done great things and serve as examples for the rest of us. I don’t feel like I have the tools that make other people successful. I don’t even know what it takes to be a success. I don’t really have dreams or goals, so it seems futile to try to be like someone when I know I could never reach their level.

I could read a bunch of motivational books, biographies of successful people, or go to seminars to learn some tools for personal growth. Maybe I could find someone to pattern my life after. Maybe I could find a life coach to help me. Maybe I just need lots of therapy.

You can read all the self-help books you want, but at some point you just have to accept what you are. I’m not someone who will do heroic things in my life. As a wise philosopher once said, “I yam what I yam and that’s all that I yam.”